Bright Spots

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Bright Spot

I'm a big fan of Chip & Dan Heath's books. This shot reminded me of something from Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard:

Look for the bright spots.

Times, places, situations where things are going well.

Healthy kids in communities where many are malnourished is an example they give. Figure out what's working and learn from the bright spots.

Personal Bright Spot: I ran 5 k today. (I'll have to average 5k per day to hit 100 miles in Freecember!)

This bright spot's also a reminder to me that there's a lot of progress being made in anti-trafficking and a lot of great grassroots organisations helping people live in freedom with dignity & delight.

I'm talking this week with NGOs working in Bolivia, Wales, Philippines, Thailand and India about joining in Freecember this year. 

They're bright spots.

You are, too. ; )

Progress Isn't Pretty (Quickpost)

Progress Isn't Pretty: rarely is making progress a black tie affair. It's messy. It's sweaty. It's not pretty. I ran 2 miles without stopping today. Whew. Not pretty. Back on the horse tho. (Which is also sweaty... and smelly).

Is there something you're putting off because progress isn't pretty?

 

#freecember #runfree #raisefreedom 

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Quickpost: How to Start Getting Ready to Run 100 Miles in a Month (T-77 days to Freecember 2017)

I ran a mile the other day.

I looked back at when I last ran that far. It had been a long time. Months and months.

So I started by trying to run a mile.  I made it!

But that's not the point.

The point is: I started.

My pace? 9:33/mi.

Also, not the point. 

To run 100 miles later, I needed to start.

I started with a mile.

You could start by walking a 1/4 mile. 

I've heard Couch to 5k has been really helpful for some people.

(fyi: 100 miles in a month is roughly 5k/day! That doesn't mean a Freecember challenge isn't for you. Maybe your Freecember challenge is to walk a mile a day or to run 100k or to do yoga 10x or a yogathon or complete Couch to 5k)

I've had some trouble with my IT band in the past. So I've also started with one set each of: side leg lifts, no-weights squats and planks.

I kind of have a little to no idea what I'm doing, but someone suggested I incorporate yoga, and I've heard some about HIIT.

And I might try out Aaptiv and see how that goes. 

BTW, Freecember Team Captain registration opens October 1st!

That'll be T - 60 days to Freecember.

Plenty of time to get ready for your Freecember Challenge : )

Get To Know the People Making Freecember’s Wristbands!

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Freecember is honored to support the work of global organizations making a local impact. One of these is Common Good: Kolkata. For many families living in poverty are faced with decisions that no family would like to make. Decisions around when and who can eat, which child, if any, can go to school and even if the family can afford to stay together.

These are not uncommon decisions for millions of people around the world.

These ethically produced wristbands have been made by people that face decisions like this every day. They are the battlers of the world that keep striving towards a better life no matter how hard it is to believe that a different life is possible.

Families like this made these Limited Edition Freecember wristbands. And the money for them helps people have good jobs so they can make good choices for their families. And move that different life from possibility to reality.

Can little old wristbands really change the world? Maybe... They can certainly help make a world of difference for these families, this community and the Common Good.

Check out their story at www.common-good.world. Thank you for helping make the difference!

Click here to join in or donate in the USA. Click here to join in or donate in the UK.

Want a wristband? Email info@freecember.org

Yes, Virginia, There Is Slavery In The World Today

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"What's your ribbon for?" A young woman noticed and asked my about my "upside down" purple ribbon this week.

I told her it was to start conversations about modern slavery.

She was, I think, shocked. Taken aback.

She genuinely did not know there are millions of people in some form of slavery today.

It was affirmation there is a need for Freecember, to continue to raise widespread awareness, but even more importantly, informed action to address modern slavery / human trafficking and to support initiatives of Prevention, Intervention and Restoration.

Over the past few years, I've been learning so much about different forms of slavery, and learning about great organizations like International Justice Mission, Free the Slaves, Not For Sale, Polaris Project and Love 146 working to address slavery, I've become a bit immersed in it.

Like ... everyone knows about this, right?

I've come dangerously close to what the Heath Brothers call "The Curse of Knowledge," in their book Made to Stick, where "we start for forget what it's like not to know what we know."

In my core, I was encouraged about the importance of Freecember.

Here's the note I wrote to the young woman:

Thanks for asking about my ribbon this morning.

 

Modern slavery is a heavy topic, but there are things we can do to help stop it and great organizations making a huge difference helping people live in freedom.

 

A few years ago, I had no idea that slavery was a reality today and no clue what to do about it. Now I know some more and hope I can help more people find out not just about the problem, but also how they can be part of the solution.

 

Peace, Tate

 

For Your Eyes Only: Here is My Heart ... and Some Backstory

For Your Eyes Only: Here is My Heart ... and Some Backstory Warning: This story contains imperfect language, intense feelings and realities such as sexual abuse and death. There is frequent crying from the outset.

Journal Entry, 25 March 2014:

 

This morning I wept. Not just some tears rolling down my cheeks. Full on sobbing, scrunched up face, drool from my contorted mouth sobbing. I fell to my knees. Face to the ground.

 

I started reading chapter 1 of The Locust Effect. When I read that girls between 10 – 13 were regularly violently raped I felt shocked and outraged. Tears fell when I read about Yuri’s broken body discarded on the street. And when I read that someone knocked at Jhon’s door and said, “Someone killed your sister,” the floodgates opened.

 

We have to do something! NOW!

5th Freecember 2014

My interest in and heart for the poor, marginalized and oppressed has been growing over the past decade. I find myself frequently returning to a desire to actively participate in preventing slavery, and rescuing and restoring the priceless people affected by slavery: the ones that do not have the strength or resources to defend themselves.

In 2002, I started leading trips of young people to serve in Eastern Europe and was exposed to the material lack some people there had. I remember one young person who recounted how that afternoon she had seen a boy climbing on a trash dump holding up discarded clothes for his little sister who stood at the top of a hill to choose from. The teenager was heartbroken at the realities of extreme poverty, wishing she’d taken off her name brand fleece and given it to the little girl on the spot; she now works for 10,000 Villages.

In 2007, I led a service trip to an orphanage in Eastern Europe. I was focused on completing the work aspects of the project, guiding the leaders, keeping the teenagers safe, sharing a message of hope, truth and purpose. We helped alleviate real problems, but others who were more experienced and aware suspected that the orphanage director was selling the orphan girls. I was horrified. And partly dumbfounded that I had been oblivious. But I wasn’t looking for it, didn’t think about looking for it, and was focused on other important matters (primarily the young people for whom I was responsible). Thankfully, despite my ignorance, the attention brought as a result of our presence resulted in the removal and prosecution of the orphanage director.

A few years later, I attended a conference in Budapest. Out of interest, I attended a seminar by a woman who had worked for 10+ years with women who were trafficked and prostituted. I couldn’t stop weeping. I felt an urge to go up and wash her feet with my tears. I didn’t do it, not wanting to interrupt. Or more probably out of self-consciousness. I wanted to find out more and just say thank you for giving your life to serve, so I had lunch with her and her team and the uncontrollable sobbing continued. I said, "We have to talk about something else for a while. I can’t cry any more." At that point, I had no idea that women and girls were deceived, forced, coerced, threatened and enslaved for commercial sex.

That night I saw a woman at the entrance to the hotel where I was staying. Who did I see? A prostitute or a woman being prostituted? I saw a woman with a story I didn’t know. I didn’t know how she ended up there. Was it a choice? Forced, by forces beyond her control? Threatened with bodily harm? Passportless? A prisoner without bars? Under threats to her family? Unable to speak the language? Unable to trust those in positions of authority, in position to help?

I continued on with work and my young family. Busy times if you know what I mean. I would taking opportunities to teach on God’s heart for the poor and oppressed, giving messages on hosting parties for people that won’t, no, can’t invite you back, and how sponsoring a child for Compassion International is a tangible, specific way people can take a first step. I’ve taken young people to conferences about slavery and injustice, like the day Hope for Justice hosted in Birmingham, England, a few years back, and have encouraged them to begin giving interest-free loans to people through Kiva. For years we have been monthly donors to International Justice Mission, not much, but a small way to participate in their work on behalf of the oppressed.

In March, I decided to go see a screening of a film about sex trafficking, followed by a panel with the London Metropolitan Police, Hope for Justice, IJM UK and Sophie Hayes Foundation.  I left that afternoon with this thought: I have to do something about this.

I was aware that the book, The Locust Effect, had been published recently, and I got it and started reading. Here’s my journal entry from 25 March 2014:

"This morning I wept. Not just some tears rolling down my cheeks. Full on sobbing, scrunched up face, drool from my contorted mouth sobbing. I fell to my knees. Face to the ground.

I started reading chapter 1 of The Locust Effect. When I read that girls between 10 – 13 were regularly violently raped I felt shocked and outraged. Tears fell when I read about Yuri’s broken body discarded on the street. And when I read that someone knocked at Jhon’s door and said, “Someone killed your sister,” the floodgates opened.

We have to do something! NOW!"

So at various times over the course of this past decade or more, I have been both heartbroken and outraged, and more recently I have been pursuing ways to be meaningfully involved in helping end modern slavery, human trafficking and violence against the poor. I have been looking for what is a fit for my capacities, abilities, experience and heart...

15th Freecember 2015 Update

Last year, I honestly couldn’t figure out what I could do to make a difference, and I wasn’t sure what to do about everything I was feeling. I didn't know what I didn't know, and I didn't know what would actually help. I set out to learn as much as I could about human trafficking, and started, or really, continued on a journey, figuratively and sometimes literally. I wrote down but didn't share publicly about what I was learning and thinking and feeling. Then, after talking and dreaming and kicking ideas around with a few friends, and not really knowing what else to do at the time, but wanting to do something, I decided I’d start by trying to go 100 miles in a month and seeing if anyone would be crazy enough to join me.

Plus, nothing about slavery is funny. Me exercising… Now that has potential.

Heartbroken. Outraged. Hopeful. Overwhelmed. Here. Overseas. Persistent Effort. #freecember #hohohope

Don't Run This Race Alone

Last weekend, a few of us ran in the Dorset 10k, probably the hardest 10k I can ever imagine running in my life. Beautiful and challenging. As I experienced the whole event and as I ran, I reflected on joining in the movement of people and organizations working to stop slavery:

  1. This is a lot harder than I was expecting. Sometimes it was all I could do just to keep moving forward. Once or twice I had to sit down and catch my breath.
  2. In the middle of the race, out in the middle of nowhere, there’s not a lot of fanfare. A group of four cheering, a man with his dog, someone running nearby.
  3. Because of a staggered start, there were people that had already been running for hours when we started and who would continue to run for hours after we finished. Half-marathoners already well into their race hi-fived 10k-ers, 10k-ers cheered on marathoners… and ultra-marathoners. It didn’t matter whether you were just about to start running or whether you had been running for a long time already, people encouraged and cheered each other on. Friends and strangers celebrated each other’s progress.
  4. “Three people are better than no people.” – F.L. Hamer. I like running alone with my music and my thoughts. But on this occasion, I was so glad two friends agreed to come with me. I don’t think any of us really knew what we were getting ourselves into. I’m glad had people to train with, gear up and get there with, people I knew who understood exactly what I was experiencing, and to debrief and celebrate with.

Don’t run this race alone.

The Fire and the Flood

19 March 2014 Who am I?

What difference can I make?

“You're just a minnow in a huge ocean."

Honest and true words, spoken in the tone of a realist.

Alone, I am small.

But am I insignificant?

What can one person do?

Am I on a wild goose chase?

But...

Have you ever felt simply and utterly compelled to do something?

In the face of proverbial overwhelming odds?

But ...

What if?

What if one becomes three?

What if three become 30?

And 30 become 300?

What can 300 do?

(My friend, both history teacher and film fan can tell you.)

I am only one.

But ...

I can’t not.

I simply cannot not.

I must.

I am compelled.

The same woman that said, "No one is free until everybody is free," also said,

"Three people are better than no people.”

And I am not alone.

In some ways, I feel like I am late to the fight.

Many fires are already burning.

Not only people in large and small, domestic and international non-profits, but people in governments and corporations and small businesses and schools and universities. And in communities and families and twos and threes. And Tim and Emma.

Yes, Tim and Emma. Two young people you’ve never heard of. Inconsequential? (I do not think that word means what you think it means.) Who have been getting together with a group of 7 people for two years. Who hosted a screening of a movie followed by a panel with the London Metropolitan Police, IJM, Hope for Justice & Sophie Hayes Foundation.

Tim & Emma.

Who put up posters and passed out postcards.

Who kept striking flint to tinder.

And rekindled a spark.

In me.

Bring on the reinforcements.

Three people that care are better than no people that care.

Find two allies, friends, brothers and sisters in arms.

Light a fire where you are with what you have.

Am I a minnow? Perhaps.

Do I feel like one? Often.

But, I am a spark.

Only a single spark.

Alone, I cannot light a pitch dark room.

Alone, I give no warmth.

There are many things I cannot do alone, but I can light a flame that becomes a torch. I can be blown across rivers, over walls, through chain links and behind bars … until beacon fires burn in villages and cities, until a wildfire sweeps across fields filled with thorns.

I am potential.

Within me is the fire … and the flood.

I know there is a flood within me because every time I think about or write about modern slavery, the floodgates open.

A tear. Then weeping. Sobbing. Sometimes uncontrollably. In public.

There is a spark of life in every woman, man and child in slavery.

Perhaps it is only smoldering.

Being smothered.

Almost extinguished.

There is a spark in you, too.

(As I write these words, tears roll slowly down my cheeks. I’m sobbing ... in public again. I can’t not.)

...

Who am I?

Unknown?

Definitely.

Inadequate?

I feel like it.

Insignificant?

No.

What difference can I make?

A spark.

A drop.

By themselves, almost imperceptible.

But,

Without the spark, there is no fire. Without the drop, there is no ocean.

Let us become the fire & the flood.

Starfish and the Tide

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Starfish - The Vision27th March 2014

I'm crying on a transatlantic flight again.

I don't think the young man with the white corded headphones sitting next to me has noticed.

I'm alone for this journey, heading from London to Wichita to meet with some friends and advisers, to talk about the dream growing within me of helping end modern slavery.

This time I haven't been watching an animated movie. Tearjerkers.

And I don't feel physically, mentally or emotionally exhausted.

I've just been reading the true stories of Laura, Yuri & Mariamma and the violence and captivity they face in Kenya, Peru and India respectively, weeping for them and those who care about them.

I cry to varying degrees pretty much every day these days, flipping back and forth between

Heartbroken

&

Outraged

I wonder ...

What would it take to actually bring an end to these atrocities?

To bring freedom and safety to the 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today.

To bring an end to the pandemic affecting the lives of millions?

And it's not just stopping one perpetrator, it´s affecting

systemic and structural injustice.

It feels like too much.

And yet today,

Somewhere in the world, there is

A child who needs protection

A teenager who needs to be rescued

A young woman who needs support for restoration

A man forced to work in desperation

There are children, fathers, and mothers, sons and daughters

I can only think of the story of the boy walking along the beach with his father.

After a storm, the tide has gone out and has left hundreds and hundreds of starfish to bake in the scorching sun without protection, helpless to help themselves.

The son runs to and fro, picking up starfish one by one and flinging them back into the water ....

The father looks at his son and says, "My boy, look at all the starfish. So many. From here to the horizon. There are so many. There´s no way you can make any difference."

The child pauses for a moment, looks at the starfish in his hand, looks up at his Dad, looks back at the starfish, flings it into the safety of the sea

and innocently says,

"I made a difference to that one."

That is the picture I must keep before me as I am confronted by the sheer massiveness of modern slavery.

If I help protect, recover or restore just one human being, it is worth it.

And then I wonder ... what if we could change the story itself?

What if we could turn the tide?

What if the sea-level started to rise and began covering dozens, hundreds, thousands of starfish with the protection and nourishment they need, continuing to rise inch by inch, foot by foot, meter by meter, until every one of the millions of precious lives of enslaved today become the survivors.

Not helpless, but in need of help.

Could it be both/and?

What if we could Protect/Prevent, Rescue & Restore people by the ones and dozens,

and at the same time

Turn the tide for hundreds, thousands, and millions of people.

What would it take?

I think it would take you...

And me...

And another...

And another...

And another...

Doing what we can, with what we have, and who we are, where we spend our time.

The actions of everyday people banding together and doing what we can with what we have or can get our hands on, where we are or can get to, utilizing whatever resources, relational networks and influence we have on behalf of people being oppressed.

A little bit. Every day.

Maybe this isn't fair, but my gut says no one is neutral. I am either helping or hurting.

Unaware?

Indifferent?

Today, as I sit and read and write somewhere above the Atlantic Ocean, I am ...

Heartbroken

Outraged

Determined to help one starfish back in the ocean

and

To band together to turn the tide itself.

 

 

[Photo Credit: low tide in nungwi by Yoni Lerner]

'Why I Run' - A Freecember Poem

As I biked in the cold drizzle, I thought about the reason why I'm running/walking/biking #100miles this Freecember: she's 6 years old, lives in South-East Asia and survived slavery. I haven't met her and don't know her name, but there are caring people from #IJM walking with her who have and do. Here's the poem:

I would not do this just for me Biking here so effortly I would not would not in the rain Out in this chill grey dark and pain But, today, I'm here by choice Persisting for one child's voice Today, I ride for one small girl Believing she can change the world

As I thought the final lines, I wept.

Day 4 of the first Freecember 100 Mile Challenge to raise action to stop slavery